Tauber team projects adapt to COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Ann Arbor, MI - As industry and academia make necessary adjustments to slow the spread of COVID-19, Tauber Institute student teams employ digital tools to help solve operations problems.

March 10 marked the annual Kick-off Dinner for the Tauber Institute team projects - and became the date of the final social gathering of the institute's academic year. Twenty-four teams of business and engineering students met with faculty advisors to strategize their approach to substantive operations challenges posed by their sponsoring companies. The student teams will work for their sponsors from May through August, then return to Ann Arbor to present their solutions at the annual Spotlight! competition.

On March 11, the University of Michigan suspended in-person classes and canceled all gatherings of 100+ people through the end of the term. As faculty focused on making a quick transition to online-only instruction, Tauber staff examined the best ways to support their students in the weeks ahead, strengthening and expanding digital tools and resources already in place.

The increasing disruption of traditional in-person business practices made COVID-19 the leading topic at the Kick-off Dinner. Tauber Business Co-director Damian Beil stressed that "as short-term employees of their sponsoring companies, Tauber students must respect the restrictions developed by their sponsors as well as navigate the precautions taken by the University of Michigan." He discussed accommodations for virtual scoping visits throughout the Spring that will allow students and faculty to interact effectively with their sponsors to plan their project approach - even as travel restrictions increase.

"Now everything is digital, and you can access it from anywhere," remarked Tauber Student Coordinator Chloe Jacob. An online Team Project Portal designed and maintained by Tauber Team Project Manager Michaele Reeves provides students with a centralized location for sharing and retrieving information, as well as accessing a broad array of resources tailored to their needs. In addition, each student team receives direct support from University of Michigan experts who are only a click away: Tauber Institute co-directors, business and engineering faculty advisors, team dynamics coaches, communications coaches, and Michigan Ross librarians.

Librarian Danguole Kviklys has enjoyed forging virtual relationships with students working around the globe on Tauber team projects. "Some of the teams rarely reach out to us because they are dealing with a lot of inside information at their companies," she said, "but other teams give us a really good workout!" The Michigan Ross Kresge Library staff not only provides student teams with detailed company research that informs their approach to their sponsor's unique operations challenges, but has also developed an online interface to allow Tauber students instant access to key publications in Lean Theory, Value Chain, Logistics, Materials Management, and Analytics.

The 2020 Tauber team project sponsors are Amazon, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Beyond Meat, Boeing, Brose, Curation Foods, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Stanley Black & Decker, Steelcase, Stoneridge, Target, and Whirlpool. For more information visit www.tauber.umich.edu.

Contact: Theresa Ceccarelli, Marketing Manager / tceccare@umich.edu / 734-647-0308

The Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Michigan Engineering, working together with industry partners to facilitate cross-disciplinary education in global operations management. The Tauber Institute is an inaugural recipient of the UPS George D. Smith Prize for effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research, management science, or analytics.

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